MAYNARD (COLLIE) CASE
Downey Maynard and six retired collie show dogs live comfortably on property once owned by her grandparents.
Feb 2009 | TheDogPress Side Effects
Courtroom observations by Fern St. Clai
Maynard's house is in town, the 1.5 acre yard entirely
fenced. The dogs are full time house dogs. Maynard
states she has never had any dog problems until “The Neighbors From
Hell moved in” and began to taunt her dogs and file complaints.
This common neighbor
dispute has evolved into three-part coverage as the case against
Downey built up. Let's start at the beginning but if you are
having similar problems, you need to follow this story and learn!
Randy Gilbert sent a
Letter to the local newspaper entitled “Small town = small minds.”
The letter, which we have, states in part, “I have personally
witnessed the neighbor directly behind her aggravating the dogs to
make them bark. She (Maynard) has spent nearly $20,000 in
landscaping in 2006/7 planting shrubs and vegetation around the
fencing to be a screen to protect her dogs from the harassing
Collies will be collies,
meaning they will bark but it takes something pretty exciting to get
Maynard’s old dogs going. Laughing, she said they barked at
kids who discovered the new paved parking lot next to her but the
kids and dogs quickly became bored with each other.
But the Neighbors From
Hell continued to complain. Maynard said the Police Chief
dispatched an officer to stake out her house to see how much the
dogs barked. Quite by coincidence, the neighbor called in a
complaint against her dogs while the officer was patiently waiting
to hear a dog bark. Both the Chief Of Police and Animal
Control testified on her behalf. Maynard told us “The Health
Department also testified for me, that everything was ‘spotless
clean’ because that’s just the way I am.”
In spite of so much
favorable testimony, she was found guilty of violating the “10 P.M.
quiet law” because her dogs barked after 10 P.M. Maynard
insists that the only evidence against her was provided by the
Neighbors From Hell. Even that was refuted by another neighbor
who testified that on one of the alleged occasions, she was sick and
coughing so badly that she spent hours out on her porch that night
and she did not hear Maynard’s dogs barking.
guilty, Downey Maynard was ordered to get rid of her beloved but
“excess” dogs. She refused. Maynard said Nashville is a
very small town where the Mayor (only the second mayor in 50 years!)
and none of the Council Members own pets. She believes this
facilitated arbitrary passage of the Dog Limit Law, citing as
example the Yard Sale Limit Law.
Maynard wasn’t trying to
be funny. Nashville residents are only allowed three yard
sales per year.
In states such as North
Carolina, municipal law is the final word, unless one goes to
Maynard explained “If
the town orders everyone to paint their house pink then it is the
law.” The rational basis for what is appropriate is determined
by the municipality. A municipal law can be challenged on the
basis of state constitutionality, capriciousness and a few other
exceptions but as Ms. Maynard has discovered, it is not easy, quick,
As Fern St. Clair
observed in her report, “NC State Statutes say that municipalities
can regulate animal use in a town -- that is, they have been given
the power to say 'No dogs are allowed in Nashville', if they choose.
Period. They might say 'No goats are allowed in Raleigh', and
we have evolved to the point that we would accept that ordinance.”
According to St. Clair,
the three justices who finally heard the case in Appellate Court
pointed out that most numbers we live by are 'arbitrary', such as
speed limits, blood alcohol levels, etc. However, Mr. Reid,
Maynard’s Durham attorney, argued that setting an 'arbitrary' number
for how many dogs are allowed per family was inappropriate and
unconstitutional. He said 6 little toy dogs could be kept
inside and no one would know or care. Alternatively, one or
two noisy, potentially dangerous dogs kept out in a yard could be a
threat to human health or safety. Reid also pointed out that dogs
become 'family', and to say how many are allowed, on numbers alone,
Sitting in the appellate
courtroom, St. Clair reports, “The justices seemed to appreciate
that these 6 old dogs, well cared for and well behaved, present no
threat to the health and safety of anyone. Also that as
society evolves, the way we think about our dogs changes, that is,
today we care more about our dogs as family members, and not just as
an outside farm animal.
“Both sides referred to
the fact that dogs are, at present, not given any kind of 'special'
status, that is, they are just property. Justice Stephens said
we are the guardians of our dogs. I did not sense an AR threat
from her. It seemed like all 3 justices were trying to
figure out a way they could side with Downey so that she could keep
her 6 dogs, because, they admitted, that made the most sense, and
the best logic.”
The case is under appeal
and we will keep you updated. During the interview, Ms. Downey
Maynard was upbeat but frustrated, concerned for her dogs. She
said it could take a few more months to get a ruling or it could
come very quickly. She had been sure the evidence was so
overwhelming that the local court would find in her favor. She
is now less sure of the justice system but determined to keep all
six of her elderly dogs.
Maynard Collie Case, Part 2 Neighbors accuse TheDogPress of bias
and inaccurate reporting.